To continue the conversation, read Michelle Blevins’ article The State of Our Industry.
Today, with the publication of the State of the Industry 2023, the restoration industry welcomes something new, something that it has not had since the industry’s early formation only a handful of decades ago; comparable year over year data on major trends and sentiments that impact every stakeholder connected to this unique, chaotic, and essential industry. Much will be written, presented, and discussed about the major themes and data presented in this year’s report – there are many eyebrow raising results for management teams to debate. In good time, I hope to contribute to those important conversations, but here I want to address what I believe will be one of the greatest tectonic shifts in Restoration, a shift that, like scenes from the animated movie ‘Ice Age’, will divide the industry in a significant way. I believe the industry will ‘sooner than we think’ be divided between those that successfully reconfigured their company cultures to graft in essential behavioral changes necessary to unlock the truly transformational opportunity presented by artificial intelligence (AI) enhanced solutions and those that do not evolve their cultures, or do so sluggishly.
We’ve all heard stories in passing of someone that won the lottery, only to blow it all in a short span of time, and return to a ‘pre-rich’ station in life feeling quite sorry for themselves having squandered a possibly life changing windfall. The habits, disciplines, and behaviors that characterized how they managed their money were merely amplified by the lottery winnings. In a similar way, restorers today are living in a unique time in history, poised to receive a technology ‘windfall’ through an accelerated advent of AI. This windfall will expose and amplify each company’s historical and current ‘data rigor’, or rather the data disciplines and data habits they’ve permitted to take root within their organizations. Unless they act quickly to rectify these bad habits, much like our ‘rags to riches to rags’ lottery winner, they will watch their first-mover AI advantage pass them by.
A company’s AI potential depends on the quality of its data. AI systems are designed to process and analyze data, learn from it, and make informed decisions or take actions based on their understanding of the data and the tasks they are designed for. You’ve heard someone say, ‘data is the new gold’. This is true, unless your data is inconsistent, inaccurate, and the data collection practices you’ve allowed take root in your team are spotty at best. To this end, I’d like to suggest a motto for many in 2024 to set the tone for a new year’s resolution to position the company to capture the full horsepower of the AI wave: “Don’t Settle for Fool’s Gold Data.”
Good data collection requires good habits. Like all habits, the best time to start was years ago, but the second best time to start is right now. Your company’s ability to capitalize on the AI wave that has washed into our industry will be directly proportional to the level of discipline you cultivate into your team culture for rigor, accuracy, and consistency in data collection, reporting, and archiving.
Winning in the new era of AI is going to require resetting expectations, learning new habits, holding accountability, and courage. Fortunately, this is an industry with a rich tradition of rising to the challenge. I, for one, am feeling optimistic, and we at KnowHow are committed to partner with all those ready to rise to this tectonic opportunity.